Tag Archives: Sikhs

Can A Sikh Wear His Turban In Army?

Two Army officers have been told they must shave their beards and take off their turbans because it is against Army policy for Sikhs to carry out their faith while on active duty. According to Captain Kamaljeet Kalsi, “I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to ask me to choose between my religion and my country. Shaving my beard and taking off my turban–these are part of my body. It’s part of my being.” Captain Kalsi is a doctor and was told upon joining that he could retain those features of the Sikh religion. Now, facing active duty he was told that not shaving or wearing a turban will somehow interfere with carrying out his medical duties.

Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Nathan Banks said: “There are times when the Army cannot accommodate for religious reasons, such as when those religious observations would interfere with the wear of proper military headgear or protective clothing equipment.”

Hogwash. Sikhs have served in the British armed forces for over a hundred years without having to shave or take off their turbans. It is ridiculous regulations such as these that lose valuable members of the armed forces.

India Critical Of French Ban On Turbans

An interesting case was brought before the Supreme Court of India by the Singh Legal Foundation which asked it to accept jurisdiction over the decision by France to ban Sikhs from wearing the turben. The Court was sympathetic to the issue raised by the Sikh group, but noted: “We can only protect the fundamental rights of the citizens within the boundary of India. Fundamental rights cannot be protected in foreign lands.” The Singh Foundation argued the French ban violated the rights of Sikhs and it was the duty of the government of India to intervene. However, the Supreme Court noted that Sikhs could seek the assistance of the International Court of Justice or the European Court.

We increasingly live in times when a decision in one country impacts the lives of those living in other nations. The Supreme Court of India is correct on one point, international courts must assume responsibility for violation of human rights within an individual nation.